Twitter cracks down on bots with policy changes and mass purge


Some conservative Twitter Inc. users are accusing the company of unfairly targeting their followers as it steps up efforts to get rid of fake or abusive accounts.

Paul Joseph Watson, a commentator for InfoWars, asked, "Who else lost thousands of followers overnight?"

Posting multiple updates (on a single account or across multiple accounts you control) to a trending or popular topic (for instance, through the use of a specific hashtag) with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic, or to artificially inflate the prominence of a hashtag or topic, is never allowed.

White nationalist Richard Spencer said he lost nearly one thousand followers as a result of the purge.

'That's why some people may be experiencing suspensions or locks, ' the spokesperson added.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Twitter responded that its "tools are apolitical" and that it periodically culls accounts suspected of being fake.

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Twitter suggests that instead of using identical content from multiple accounts, one can always retweet from a particular account. In 2016, Spencer was temporarily removed for having multiple overlapping accounts.

Twitter has been gradually cracking down on bot accounts over the past several months, many of which were created by Russian state-sponsored actors.

These moves have drawn criticism from far-right and pro-Trump figures - many of whom have followed President Donald Trump's cues to use the service to spread false information - that the technology company is politically biased against them. Part of the answer may be the heightened consciousness around the issue of election meddling: less than a week ago, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Russian nationals for trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, an effort that included a major social-media component. The company did not tell us how many accounts were affected or suspended, or how many actual account holders were affected by the increased scrutiny.

After the Parkland school shooting last week, networks of accounts suspected of having links to Russian Federation switched from tweeting about Mueller's investigation to amplifying hashtags about the gun-control debate. On the flip side, progressive users say Twitter doesn't do enough to stop harassment against women and people of color.

This means that as a Facebook user, you'll see more posts from friends that have spurred lively debates in the comments.